Nine-bed 18th century home in Westmeath hits the market for €900k
500 paintings restored Farragh House for Roy Lyndsay
The sales proceeds from more than 500 paintings have saved Farragh House - a nine-bedroom mid 18th century mansion in Bunbrosna - from certain ruin.
The 6,344 sq ft house, which was originally built as a chartered Protestant boys' school in the 1750s, has been brought back to life by Irish artist Roy Lyndsay, who only recently finished restoring it one room at a time since acquiring it 21 years ago.
The Tyrone born artist, who is known for his Irish folk and sports themes, particularly horse racing, has seen his works fetch five-figure sums at Sothebys of London. He came across the near derelict Farragh in 1995 when he and his son were taking a walk on a day trip from the latter's boarding school.
"Barry was a boarder at the nearby Wilson's School (built by the same trust) and asked would I take him out for the day. As we set off he told me we could look at an old house but he said he'd only take me there if I promised not to buy it and make him live in it," says Lyndsay.
If the request seemed unusual, it should be noted Lyndsay, who had recently moved from Dublin to Westmeath, had already bought and restored a number of old properties on a whim.
"There are 64 windows and most were broken. Trees were growing into the house in the inside courtyard. We entered the property through one of these windows and looked around inside. Then I turned to Barry and said: 'I'm very sorry son but I can tell you now that I'm going to buy this place.' He did and Lyndsay, his wife Kathryn and their four children, moved into the nearly derelict Farragh.
"It wasn't as bad as it sounds," says the artist. Although Farragh hadn't been occupied in more than 10 years, it had been subject to a few restoration attempts, one of which had vitally seen the roof completely restored.
"The roof was like brand new, and it meant the house beneath it was protected. The trick when you have a family living in a big house needing work like this is to start off using a handful of rooms - treat it like living in a cottage. You do up one more room, then another and bit by bit you move through the house." The local authority estimates Farragh's construction date at 1758 although other sources suggest the mid 1740s.
Lyndsay has been a full-time artist for more than 45 years and almost all of his income from painting (he turns out 20 to 30 canvases a year) was ploughed into the house since buying it, with Kathryn's income taking care of other family living expenses. He reckons the restoration has cost more than 500 paintings to date. He finished the main house only a few years ago and has now moved on to the outbuildings. "I'd go through phases of painting and then I'd stop painting and work on the house and vice versa."
Farragh has 18 main rooms and could house the equivalent of six standard three-bed semis inside it. It's robust and built of a mix of local flint and limestone. Perhaps its most impressive room is the majestic entrance hall with an ornate dual access staircase running up two sides above the entrance.
The hall is 555 sq ft, more than half the size of an average family house and with a huge period fireplace and very detailed stucco work overhead. The gallery room is a long affair of 1,000 sq ft, the equivalent floor area of an entire three-bed house. There's a living room, a dining room, a very large traditional kitchen and the nine bedrooms (one of which is ensuite). It has 3.9 acres overlooking Lough Owel and includes an extensive range of period outbuildings under restoration. With the children grown, the Lyndsays are downsizing and seeking €900,000.
Bunbrosna, Mullingar, Co Westmeath
Asking price: €900,000
Agent: Bartholomew McElhatton Tel: (01) 6424242